Friday, September 18, 2015

Estate Sale Diary (Weekend Recap)

Good morning!!

Like I said earlier in the week, I'm back to check in with some reportage from the field. What field? The estate sale field, naturally. I realized the other day, talking to a friend, that while there are some crazy out-of-the-ordinary estate sales or Goodwill runs that stick out in my mind by sheer force of weirdness, I've been missing a great opportunity in not keeping some kind of a log of the selfsame. I want to get better about taking pictures and documenting the digging-- I yanked most of these from, but I'll try to be a more diligent shutterbug in the future.

1) Knob Hill, Donelson:

One of my favorite sellers from Gallatin (you can see her shop on the square here) was running a sale in Donelson, and greeted me at the door. "Are you wearing your charm bracelet?" she called out. "YOU KNOW IT," I replied, both of us referring to the sterling silver charm bracelet Matthew had gone up to Sumner County to procure for me. Remind me to tell you more about that and my ensuing obsession with vintage charms in a later post. ;) As nervous as it makes me to run into people I know at the sales (because I have the inborn natural skittishness and self doubt of a feral cat), it kind of also make me happy to see my peeps. In we went.

This house was gor-GEOUS. Five bedrooms and a kitchen like something out of a Franco Zefferelli Shakespeare movie, with a big brick hearth outfitted with grill, cooktop, double oven, and who knows what else all in one gorgeous Tudor package. I was knocked back by visions of hanging garlic and copper bottom pans and whatever else Julia Child would have in her kitchen to make it yet more impressive, too much so to notice the in-wall stereo system (!!) that another estate sale attendee posted on a midcentury Facebook group to which I belong. If it were a snake, it would have bit me. My mom walked up to the house and went, "This is so-and-so so-and-so's house! I've been here!" And sure enough, it was a woman who had worked at the Red Cross with my ma at some point in her long career there. I'm not sure if the homeowner passed away or moved to retirement, but it's weird when that happens! The strangest incidence of that was when my dad and I accidentally went to my great-uncle James's house for an estate sale-- he was still walking around on God's green earth, thankfully, but was selling a friend's estate in a yard sale type set up. Me: Didn't you recognize the address?! Dad: I knew it was the same street, I didn't know it was the same HOUSE. You never know what you're going to come up with in service of searching for other people's household junk, haha.

Can you make out the cook top under the pans? Imagine it had a curved type alcove in which it was situated.
I really wanted this vanity because it reminded me of one Marlene Dietrich had in her house, but I couldn't think of anywhere to put it (and it was dead cheap, too! Dommage). It was in bad shape but in that cool, glamorously down at the heels type way. Look at that elephant! Better believe if that was there or I'd seen it somewhere I would have been mightily tempted.

I also almost bought this faux ostrich skin hat case, but the handle was busted and I wasn't sure how to fix it. Love you, miss you, train case:

I want to look up this house when it hits the market, but I'm sure with five bedrooms in a leafy part of Donelson, it's going to be 400k if it's a day. Keep dreaming, Lisa! Keep those dreams alive.

2) Bellshire:

Parker sales was having a blow out sale in Bellshire-- the people who lived there had owned a five and dime type store, I think they said, evidenced in part by the fact that there were two outbuildings full of vintage toys, the kind you would trade for tickets at the roller rink or arcade. I loved just seeing all these little bits and bobs but it was a little overwhelming in sheer volume, plus the added intrigue of trying to fight your way past resellers taking advantage of the half off day. They were out in FORCE this morning. 

Pan Am and TWA!

Even at half off, I was a little miffed at the dollar-to-four-dollar price tags on a lot of the stuff, though as I showed interest in things, the sales employees would often quote a price that was way lower than even half off-- you'd think I'd be pleased with that, but instead I was more like, "Then WHY is it marked xyz?" I think my #1 thing that the estate sale people can do besides choosing a house with bonkers-crazy-neat-stuff is to clearly display prices and clearly establish discounts-- if things were marked fairly in the first place, half should be plenty to liquidate the remaining items on a three day sale; if you've still got beaucoup de stuff on the third day, you messed up your prices. I may not be a professional estate sale runner, but Lord knows I know the buying side of the business, and it makes your die-hard shoppers like me ticked to not have consistency with pricing. End rant.

These change purses were INSANE. I have no idea why I didn't buy at least one
Besides the prices being a smidge high and all over the board, there was so much STUFF, and most of it not very good/interesting. Not even counting the outbuildings, in the house itself, it seemed every room had an enormous grouping of like items, as if someone had gone "oh, I collect little dolls like that, let's buy one EVERY time I see one." I guess these might have been part of the aforementioned business, but again, there was way too much of everything

That skinny dog was gone, but the pair of dog-with-mailbox pieces was there, and $25...even at $12.50, I thought that was a little high. Which means I guess I didn't want it very badly, haha!

I've omitted like another 10 pictures of grouped figurines, imagine this times 10.

The big deal at this sale was Jadeitegate 2015, which went down in a big way about five minutes after I got to the sale. Whooo, peeeeeeople, hold on to your hats.

The cause of the sturm und drang
I caught this set of Jadeite mixing bowls out of the corner of my eye immediately upon entering the house-- and again, this is maybe 8:40 on the last day of the sale, so the fever pitch of resellers snapping up items at a deal before they've even had a chance to be looked at by us civilians was pretty high. Since seeing Lauren from Apron Strings Vintage build an impressive collection of this type of glassware on her blog and Instagram, I always am on the lookout for a good piece of it at a good price (because I obviously need another collection like I need another hole in my head :p). But they're cute, right? That milky green is so unusual and I know it would look good against my black table top, so it's not a completely impossible/crazy dream. A middle aged woman with a short hair cut was turning the bowls over in her hands, looking for markings, discussing the bowls with her taller, black-t-shirt-tucked-into-jeans husband who stood to the side. Nothing makes someone want something more than knowing someone else wants something, so I monitored the situation for maybe a minute to see if she'd decide against them and set the bowls down, before finally deciding to keep looking in the next room on the off chance that she would be done looking at them/given up on them by the time I came back, or would have bought them one. Nothing was well served by me pretending to look at ashtrays in a stationary position catty corner from hers, so with a shrug of my shoulders, I kept moving.

I could overhear "Do you see 'Fire King' on any of them? I don't know, I just think maybe this one..." from on down the line and my heart sank a little. Then another woman in a work apron came on the scene and dropped the bomb on this lady: "I'm sorry, those are already sold."

Now, what do you do in this kind of situation? Me, I would have colored visibly with embarrassment and disappointment, surrendered the bowls, and been kind of heartsick the rest of the day about how I'd almost got Jadeite bowls at a fraction of the cost if someone hadn't beat me to the punch by the tiniest of margins. Nooooot this lady.

How pretty do these things look altogether?
With the strength of conviction of some self-styled martyr, she dug in her heels but hard. "What do you mean?" The worker started to stammer then something about how someone had already bought the mixing bowls and was just up at the counter paying. "How can they be sold when THEY'RE RIGHT HERE IN MY HAND? THEY'RE RIGHT HERE IN MY HAND!!" the buyer lady spat, loud enough that several fellow shoppers turned in her direction, prairie dog like, at the commotion. "Let me check for you, I mean, they might not have been sold, but I'm pretty sure that little girl who was here earlier bought them," the salesperson said, making fatal error #2. Fatal error #1, either mark the dishes or move them to the sold table, don't leave them in the field of play where someone who is waiting to chew someone else out for no reason might take offense at their presence. Fatal error #2, not standing your ground, thus planting hope in the already ticked off lady's mind as to the possibility that she might be going home with said dishes.

The saleslady returned with the person who had actually bought the dishes, who I couldn't see from where I was, but I could also hear. There was actual flapping of the receipt in the person-trying-to-buy-the-dishes's face by the person-who-had-bought-and-paid-for-said-dishes, which seemed a very adult and mature course of action to me, followed by the would be buyer again loudly exclaiming that she HAD NEVER heard of someone buying something and not taking it with them, how could she have bought the dishes when they're (again) RIGHT HERE IN HER HAND? Suffice to say the items were handed over without bloodshed, but a weird tension fell over the sale both during and after the verbal conflagration. I was like "Aaaaaand I'm ready to go."

What do you think? Shouldn't the lady who bought them have carried them with her or marked  them sold? Shouldn't the other lady have just gracefully admitted defeat? What would you have done?

Sorry, even glassware this pretty isn't worth getting in a bar fight over.
 Last insult to injury, I was on my way to the car when I saw this:

This conversation ensued:
Me to my dad: Oh, cool! Look they still have that old computer. I wonder if that's something I could get Matthew for his anniversary present. Go look how much it is.
Dad: Well...[looks at price tag, makes face]
Me: It's like $500, isn't it.
Dad: Close!
Me: [inspects price tag] FOUR HUNDRED AND FIFTY DOLLARS?
Dad: It's only half of that today, so that's $225!
Me: I am not paying two hundred dollars for that.
Dad: They were like three thousand dollars back in the day. I remember there was a tv commercial with Bill Bixby in it where he showed you all the things you could do with could type....and I guess add stuff....
Me: [a "Nancy" comic strip caricature of Nancy in a bad mood]

FORGET THIS SALE. #booooooooooooo

Michael Taylor warehouse:

I mainly went to the Michael Taylor sale to see if they still had this:

They didn't. And this:

They did but it was $450 with 40% off. You do the math, I can't see through my tears here to do the necessary figuring.

This I was mightily tempted to get IN SPITE of its $40 after discount price tag. It's a 1930's/1940's circus wagon toy, with about the most charming illustrated lions you're likely to see any time soon:

Best part? When the wheels roll, they have some kind of thing rigged up to where it makes a sound like a calliope or a pretty set of chimes. DID I NOT SAY CHARMING?

Epilogue (and a Navy Suit):

We went to one last sale where I didn't take any pictures or save any pictures from the website-- BLVD estate sales has a commercial space right around the corner from MT, so I thought "Ah, why not." There wasn't much of interest, but as I was leaving, I almost knocked something off a wall where it was hanging (because I bear the grace and carriage of Dovima, obviously, in my day to day dealings), and when I picked it up, it ended up being the only thing I bought at all the sales! This WWII Naval Officer's uniform was $48 with 75% off, so I snapped it up, along with a picture of the group on their ship the USS Alaska, for $14 total. What am I going to do with it? WHO KNOWS, I wanted it. Here's a picture of the goods:

I need a haircut. Or some curlers. SOMETHING. Also note Marc Creates piece from post before last sulking against the wall, unhung. Shame!

Impressive, right?!
The pants and jacket are VERY skinny, but I like having the complete set, and for less than fifteen bucks!

I gotta get back to the grind, but do tell me what you got into this last weekend! Any great finds? Any near catfights? Any weird houses? I'd love to hear all about it. :)

Have a great Friday, and I'll talk to you next week!


  1. i went to that crazy five and dime sale too. I couldn't believe how much good stuff was left at 10 on the last day. The prices really were too high. I wonder if they did another week or if all that went to the dumpster. I got one of those coin purses, the little bagpipe guy.

    1. See, you were smart! I wish I'd gotten a change purse! Just popped over and saw your blog post on this, I like the stuff you picked up! And yes, where does all this stuff go? I feel like if they'd priced things like four for a dollar to begin with they wouldn't have to give everything to Goodwill at the end, which is sad.

  2. I'm still mad at how high the first-day prices were on that jadite. I was the first person to get to it, and it was for naught. But onward! Flea market this weekend and Sept. is always a good month.

    1. You gotta tell me how much they were, I'm dying to know now! I think the plates were marked like $20 apiece so I know the mixing bowls had to be astronomical. And yet, not worth getting in a fight over! CANNOT. WAIT. FOR. FLEA MARKET. Counting the hours til the weekend! :)



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